Saturday, March 29, 2008

Divorce & Remarriage

Many have asked me, “If I have been divorced, can I remarry?” The answer is, “Yes,” if there were scriptural reasons for your divorce. The answer is, “No,” if there were not scriptural reasons for your divorce. Many preachers hold the doctrine that if you have been divorced, no matter what the reason, you can never again remarry. The Bible simply does not say that. I believe that it is a misunderstanding of Scripture. In fact, the Bible gives three scriptural reasons for divorce: Death, Adultery, and Desertion.

The first justifiable reason that we’ll deal with is death. I think that this ones an automatic “give me” that no one who’s reasonable can argue with. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 7:39, The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.
Notice that it says, only in the LordThat means that they must marry another Christian. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? Simply put, believers are not supposed to marry unbelievers. I can’t tell you how many I have watched suffer over the years because they refuse to be obedient to this command.

The second justifiable reason is adultery. This is the first exception to death as a reason for divorce. Jesus said in Matthew 19:3-10, The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.

Why does God allow divorce in the case of adultery? He allows it because adultery divides the one flesh that was created at marriage and creates another one. We see this “one flesh” being created in Genesis 2:24 when God said, Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. We see that another flesh is created in 1 Corinthians 6:16 when Paul said, What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.

The third justifiable reason is desertion. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7:12-15, But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. Here is a case where a husband or a wife gets saved and the unbelieving spouse decides to leave. Paul said, "Let them depart." If they do go, Paul recommends that the deserted spouse remain single in 1 Corinthians 7:27. But, he also tells them that it is not a sin if they decide to remarry instead in 1 Corinthians 7:28. The only condition on the remarriage is that the deserted spouse must marry a Christian (1 Corinthians 7:39).

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Passover

Today, I want to take a little detour to celebrate the Passover. Unfortunately, we call it Easter today after the Babylonian goddess Astarte, the Queen of Heaven. That’s an entirely different sermon that would probably get me into trouble anyway. Be that as it may, we are celebrating the Passover, not Easter which was a pagan festival that was adapted into Christianity.

What I want you to see today is that Jesus was the ultimate fulfillment of the Passover. He is our Passover Lamb! It says in 1 Corinthians 5:7, “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.” Open your Bible and follow along as we go through Exodus 12. This is going to be quick, but worthwhile if you will take time to open your Bible and follow along.

The Passover was introduced by God to the Israelites in the book of Exodus right before He was about to bring the tenth plague on the Egyptians that would kill the firstborn male child in every home. However, he told the Israelites in Exodus 12 that if they wanted their firstborn males to live, they would have to go into their flocks and do the following eleven things.

First, they were to select a Lamb on the 10th day of Nisan (v.3). Second, the Lamb was to be an unblemished male (v.5). Third, the Lamb was to be kept among them for what amounted to 3½ days (v.6a). Fourth, the Lamb was to be killed on the fourteenth of Nisan (v.6a). Fifth, the blood of the Lamb was to be applied to the top and sides of the door of their home (v.7). Sixth, once the Lamb was dead, it was to be roasted in fire (v.8). Seventh, they had to eat the Lamb (v.11a). Eighth, we also notice in v.46 that none of its bones were to be broken. Ninth, they had be girded (dressed) and ready to go (v.11b). Tenth, the blood on the household caused God's judgment to pass over it (v.13). Eleventh, once the Lamb was killed, no leaven was to be eaten or even found in the house (v.15).

Now, it gets interesting. All eleven of these things were fulfilled in Jesus Christ, our Passover Lamb. I wish I could go into much more detail, but time does not allow it here. However, this will be my topic Sunday morning at Borderland.

First, Jesus entered the eastern gate on the 10th day of Nisan (April 6th), thus the lamb was selected. Second, Jesus was an unblemished male. Pilate said in John 18:38 “…I find no fault in Him at all.” Peter, when speaking of Jesus said in 1 Peter 1:19 that we are redeemed “…with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” Third, Jesus walked the streets of Jerusalem for 3½ days after He had entered the city on the 10th day of Nisan (April 6th). Fourth, Jesus was killed on the fourteenth day of Nisan which on our Julian calendar is April 10th. The same ones who cried, “Hosanna”, at His triumphal entry just three days earlier cried out, “Crucify Him!” Oh, how a crowd can change so quickly! Fifth, Jesus has made his blood available and it is the only way that we are going to escape judgment and death. Hebrews 9:12 says, “Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” Sixth, Jesus endured the fire of God's judgment, by descending into Hell and taking our punishment upon Himself. He was our burnt (sin) offering. Seventh, we too, must appropriate Jesus Christ. We do this symbolically at the Communion table and literally by accepting him into our lives as Lord and Savior. Eighth, none of Jesus’ bones were broken (John 19:31-36). Ninth, we too, should live in expectancy of the imminent return of Jesus Christ and should always be ready to go at a moments notice. Tenth, when we apply the blood of Jesus to our lives, God's judgment passes over us. Eleventh, once we have applied the blood of Jesus Christ to our lives, sin (leaven) should not be found in our homes. John said in 1 John 3:6, “Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.” How about you? Is Jesus your Passover Lamb?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Triumphal Entry

On April 6, 32 A.D., or what we have come to call Palm Sunday, Jesus was sitting with his disciples on the Mount of Olives. He turned to two of them and said in Luke 19:30-31, “…Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither. And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose him? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him.” Of course, the disciples did exactly what they were told and brought to colt to the Lord. The Bible further tells us in Luke 19:35 that, “they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon.”
Another interesting aspect of the story is the Lord’s response on the way down the mountain. The Bible says that He began to cry and say, “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation” (Luke 19:42-44). The Lord knew before He even reached the city that He would be rejected. He knew that He was just going through the motions by this time. His fate was sealed.
As He approaches the city and enters the Eastern Gate, the people began to cry out in Luke 19:38, “Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.” I’m sure that these cries rang hollow in our Lord’s ears. You see, they were looking for a political leader, not a Savior. They had there eyes on the temporal and not the eternal. Jesus was simply a means to an end for them. Sounds like much of Christianity today. They are in it for what they can get and not what they can give.
Upon entering the Eastern Gate, our Lord goes straight to the temple and finds exactly what He expected and began to “cast out them that sold therein, and then that bought” (Luke 19:45). And he said to them, “In is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves” (Luke 19:46). From that point forward, it was over. He had really pushed the right buttons. It says in Luke 19:47, “the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him.” They were busted. He called them into the light and revealed to everyone just what hypocrites that truly were and how they were truly manipulating and extorting the people. In there little self-righteous minds, the only way to stop Him now, before He put them all out of business, was to kill Him. It’s amazing what religious people can do when they are confronted with the truth. There seems to be no better way to make an enemy than to simply tell him the truth. I’ve received some responses to these articles that will absolutely blow your mind. It’s no wonder, the Bible says in Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” You see, God doesn’t just know what you do, He also knows why you do it! Sometimes that can be hard to admit for all of us.
In closing, “Why did Jesus go straight to the Temple?” He had come to restore the Glory to Israel. He had come to fulfill the Davidic and the Abrahamic Covenants. He had come to fulfill all of the Old Testament promises made about it

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Why Bad Things Happen, Part 3

This week, I will continue our look at “Why Bad Things Happen”. We have already discussed the first six reasons that God allows bad things to happen. They are to demonstrate His power, grace, works, chastening, wrath and to test our obedience.

Today, we pick up with the seventh reason that bad things happen. They happen to give us a ministry of consolation. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 1:3-7, Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.” I think that the key word in these verses is “consolation”!

This means that we may have to go through something bad in order to minister to others who have the same trouble after us. No one can comfort a widow like another widow. Only those “who’ve been there” can know how that other person feels. That is God giving you the “ministry of consolation.” You may be suffering just to help someone else. Not a role that most of us would readily volunteer for.

The eighth reason that bad things happen is for our reward. The Bible says in 1 Peter 2:20-21, For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.” There is something that we would all do well to remember, this old world hated Jesus Christ and He promised that it would hate us too. You don’t hear that very often from the pulpits across America today, but it is true. You will be hated by the world if you are living for God. That’s reason enough for many of you to question just who you are living for. Are you living for the here and now? – or are you living for the eternal? Tell me the way you voted on March 4th of this year and I’ll answer that question for you!

As a result, many of us Christians have suffered at the hands of the world, thus enduring anything from reproach to martyrdom. It goes along with being a Christian. However, God did promise a reward to those who suffer with him. Paul said in Romans 8:17, “and if children, then heirs -- heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”

Finally, bad things happen because of our wickedness. Paul said in Galatians 6:7, Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” There is a doctrine in the Bible called "Sowing and Reaping." When you and I sin, there are consequences that result. And the consequences often cause us and others around us to suffer. We have no one else to blame but ourselves, though we may try to implicate God and others like Adam did in the garden after he had sinned (Genesis 3:12). Sadly, today we live in a culture in which insists it’s always the other guys fault. That doesn’t fly with God. He hold us each personally responsible for our actions.

I hear Romans 8:28 quoted out of context all the time by Christians who are trying to justify bad things happening in their lives. It says, And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God…” That’s usually where they stop in their quotation. However, the rest of the verse says, “…to them who are the called according to his purpose.” That means that things only work out when you are doing what God told you to!

Why Bad Things Happen, Part 2

This week, I will continue our look at “Why Bad Things Happen”. Last week we discussed the first three reasons that God allows bad things to happen. They are to demonstrate His power, grace and works.

Today, we pick up with the fourth reason, to demonstrate His chastening. The writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews 12:5-8, “…My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” The very fact that God does indeed chasten us is proof that we are His children! Think about it for a moment. I’m not going to chastise your children. They are not mine, but yours. It’s your responsibility to correct them when they go astray because they belong to you! As Christians, we belong to God. Therefore, as His children, he chastises us because we are His!

Why does God do this? - Because He loves us. Hebrews 12:9-11 says, “Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” God wants us to be partakers of his holiness and to yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness. That’s impossible without chastening. God wants us to be perfect (complete). It says in Matthew 5:48, Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” And in Colossians 1:28, “Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” That’s quite an expectation!

It reminds me of Job when he went through his ordeal. In the end, he came out repentant when he said, I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee. Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” When our suffering is at the hand of God’s chastening rod, we should come out the same way: repentant and closer to what God wants of us. It says in 2 Peter 3:9 that the “…Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” God’s chastening is designed to bring about repentance in our lives.

The fifth reason that bad things happen is so that God can demonstrate His wrath. A prime example of this is found in Genesis 6-8 when it speaks of God destroying the earth because of sinful man with a flood. The world had turned to such wickedness that God could no longer put up with it. So, he just wiped it out and started over with Noah’s family and the animals in the ark. God was demonstrating His wrath. And listen to me when I tell you this, God is very patient. It says in Ephesians 2:4, “But God, who is rich in mercy (patience), for his great love wherewith he loved us.”

The sixth reason that bad things happen is so that God can test our obedience. It is said of Jesus in Hebrews 5:8, “though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.” Even God’s own Son suffered so that he could learn obedience. If Jesus had to suffer to learn obedience, just imagine what we have to go through. Compared to what Jesus suffered, it appears that we have gotten off rather lightly.